Esther 1-10 New Living Translation (NLT)
The King’s Banquet
1 These events happened in the days of King Xerxes,[a] who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia.[b] 2 At that time Xerxes ruled his empire from his royal throne at the fortress of Susa. 3 In the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. He invited all the military officers of Persia and Media as well as the princes and nobles of the provinces. 4 The celebration lasted 180 days—a tremendous display of the opulent wealth of his empire and the pomp and splendor of his majesty.
5 When it was all over, the king gave a banquet for all the people, from the greatest to the least, who were in the fortress of Susa. It lasted for seven days and was held in the courtyard of the palace garden. 6 The courtyard was beautifully decorated with white cotton curtains and blue hangings, which were fastened with white linen cords and purple ribbons to silver rings embedded in marble pillars. Gold and silver couches stood on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and other costly stones.
7 Drinks were served in gold goblets of many designs, and there was an abundance of royal wine, reflecting the king’s generosity. 8 By edict of the king, no limits were placed on the drinking, for the king had instructed all his palace officials to serve each man as much as he wanted.
9 At the same time, Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.
Queen Vashti Deposed
10 On the seventh day of the feast, when King Xerxes was in high spirits because of the wine, he told the seven eunuchs who attended him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas— 11 to bring Queen Vashti to him with the royal crown on her head. He wanted the nobles and all the other men to gaze on her beauty, for she was a very beautiful woman. 12 But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger.
13 He immediately consulted with his wise advisers, who knew all the Persian laws and customs, for he always asked their advice. 14 The names of these men were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan—seven nobles of Persia and Media. They met with the king regularly and held the highest positions in the empire.
15 “What must be done to Queen Vashti?” the king demanded. “What penalty does the law provide for a queen who refuses to obey the king’s orders, properly sent through his eunuchs?”
16 Memucan answered the king and his nobles, “Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king but also every noble and citizen throughout your empire. 17 Women everywhere will begin to despise their husbands when they learn that Queen Vashti has refused to appear before the king. 18 Before this day is out, the wives of all the king’s nobles throughout Persia and Media will hear what the queen did and will start treating their husbands the same way. There will be no end to their contempt and anger.
19 “So if it please the king, we suggest that you issue a written decree, a law of the Persians and Medes that cannot be revoked. It should order that Queen Vashti be forever banished from the presence of King Xerxes, and that the king should choose another queen more worthy than she. 20 When this decree is published throughout the king’s vast empire, husbands everywhere, whatever their rank, will receive proper respect from their wives!”
21 The king and his nobles thought this made good sense, so he followed Memucan’s counsel. 22 He sent letters to all parts of the empire, to each province in its own script and language, proclaiming that every man should be the ruler of his own home and should say whatever he pleases.[c]
Esther Becomes Queen
2 But after Xerxes’ anger had subsided, he began thinking about Vashti and what she had done and the decree he had made. 2 So his personal attendants suggested, “Let us search the empire to find beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint agents in each province to bring these beautiful young women into the royal harem at the fortress of Susa. Hegai, the king’s eunuch in charge of the harem, will see that they are all given beauty treatments. 4 After that, the young woman who most pleases the king will be made queen instead of Vashti.” This advice was very appealing to the king, so he put the plan into effect.
5 At that time there was a Jewish man in the fortress of Susa whose name was Mordecai son of Jair. He was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shimei. 6 His family[d] had been among those who, with King Jehoiachin[e] of Judah, had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. 7 This man had a very beautiful and lovely young cousin, Hadassah, who was also called Esther. When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter.
8 As a result of the king’s decree, Esther, along with many other young women, was brought to the king’s harem at the fortress of Susa and placed in Hegai’s care. 9 Hegai was very impressed with Esther and treated her kindly. He quickly ordered a special menu for her and provided her with beauty treatments. He also assigned her seven maids specially chosen from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.
10 Esther had not told anyone of her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had directed her not to do so. 11 Every day Mordecai would take a walk near the courtyard of the harem to find out about Esther and what was happening to her.
12 Before each young woman was taken to the king’s bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments—six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments. 13 When it was time for her to go to the king’s palace, she was given her choice of whatever clothing or jewelry she wanted to take from the harem. 14 That evening she was taken to the king’s private rooms, and the next morning she was brought to the second harem,[f] where the king’s wives lived. There she would be under the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch in charge of the concubines. She would never go to the king again unless he had especially enjoyed her and requested her by name.
15 Esther was the daughter of Abihail, who was Mordecai’s uncle. (Mordecai had adopted his younger cousin Esther.) When it was Esther’s turn to go to the king, she accepted the advice of Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem. She asked for nothing except what he suggested, and she was admired by everyone who saw her.
16 Esther was taken to King Xerxes at the royal palace in early winter[g] of the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women. He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti. 18 To celebrate the occasion, he gave a great banquet in Esther’s honor for all his nobles and officials, declaring a public holiday for the provinces and giving generous gifts to everyone.
19 Even after all the young women had been transferred to the second harem[h] and Mordecai had become a palace official,[i] 20 Esther continued to keep her family background and nationality a secret. She was still following Mordecai’s directions, just as she did when she lived in his home.
Mordecai’s Loyalty to the King
21 One day as Mordecai was on duty at the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthana[j] and Teresh—who were guards at the door of the king’s private quarters—became angry at King Xerxes and plotted to assassinate him. 22 But Mordecai heard about the plot and gave the information to Queen Esther. She then told the king about it and gave Mordecai credit for the report. 23 When an investigation was made and Mordecai’s story was found to be true, the two men were impaled on a sharpened pole. This was all recorded in The Book of the History of King Xerxes’ Reign.
Haman’s Plot against the Jews
3 Some time later King Xerxes promoted Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite over all the other nobles, making him the most powerful official in the empire. 2 All the king’s officials would bow down before Haman to show him respect whenever he passed by, for so the king had commanded. But Mordecai refused to bow down or show him respect.
3 Then the palace officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you disobeying the king’s command?” 4 They spoke to him day after day, but still he refused to comply with the order. So they spoke to Haman about this to see if he would tolerate Mordecai’s conduct, since Mordecai had told them he was a Jew.
5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. 6 He had learned of Mordecai’s nationality, so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes.
7 So in the month of April,[k] during the twelfth year of King Xerxes’ reign, lots were cast in Haman’s presence (the lots were called purim) to determine the best day and month to take action. And the day selected was March 7, nearly a year later.[l]
8 Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. 9 If it please the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will give 10,000 large sacks[m] of silver to the government administrators to be deposited in the royal treasury.”
10 The king agreed, confirming his decision by removing his signet ring from his finger and giving it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 The king said, “The money and the people are both yours to do with as you see fit.”
12 So on April 17[n] the king’s secretaries were summoned, and a decree was written exactly as Haman dictated. It was sent to the king’s highest officers, the governors of the respective provinces, and the nobles of each province in their own scripts and languages. The decree was written in the name of King Xerxes and sealed with the king’s signet ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by swift messengers into all the provinces of the empire, giving the order that all Jews—young and old, including women and children—must be killed, slaughtered, and annihilated on a single day. This was scheduled to happen on March 7 of the next year.[o] The property of the Jews would be given to those who killed them.
14 A copy of this decree was to be issued as law in every province and proclaimed to all peoples, so that they would be ready to do their duty on the appointed day. 15 At the king’s command, the decree went out by swift messengers, and it was also proclaimed in the fortress of Susa. Then the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa fell into confusion.
Mordecai Requests Esther’s Help
4 When Mordecai learned about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail. 2 He went as far as the gate of the palace, for no one was allowed to enter the palace gate while wearing clothes of mourning. 3 And as news of the king’s decree reached all the provinces, there was great mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and wailed, and many people lay in burlap and ashes.
4 When Queen Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was deeply distressed. She sent clothing to him to replace the burlap, but he refused it. 5 Then Esther sent for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs who had been appointed as her attendant. She ordered him to go to Mordecai and find out what was troubling him and why he was in mourning. 6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the square in front of the palace gate.
7 Mordecai told him the whole story, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 Mordecai gave Hathach a copy of the decree issued in Susa that called for the death of all Jews. He asked Hathach to show it to Esther and explain the situation to her. He also asked Hathach to direct her to go to the king to beg for mercy and plead for her people. 9 So Hathach returned to Esther with Mordecai’s message.
10 Then Esther told Hathach to go back and relay this message to Mordecai: 11 “All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.” 12 So Hathach[p] gave Esther’s message to Mordecai.
13 Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” 17 So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
Esther’s Request to the King
5 On the third day of the fast, Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the palace, just across from the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing there in the inner court, he welcomed her and held out the gold scepter to her. So Esther approached and touched the end of the scepter.
3 Then the king asked her, “What do you want, Queen Esther? What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!”
4 And Esther replied, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a banquet I have prepared for the king.”
5 The king turned to his attendants and said, “Tell Haman to come quickly to a banquet, as Esther has requested.” So the king and Haman went to Esther’s banquet.
6 And while they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, “Now tell me what you really want. What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!”
7 Esther replied, “This is my request and deepest wish. 8 If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request and do what I ask, please come with Haman tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for you. Then I will explain what this is all about.”
Haman’s Plan to Kill Mordecai
9 Haman was a happy man as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the palace gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, Haman became furious. 10 However, he restrained himself and went on home.
Then Haman gathered together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 and boasted to them about his great wealth and his many children. He bragged about the honors the king had given him and how he had been promoted over all the other nobles and officials.
12 Then Haman added, “And that’s not all! Queen Esther invited only me and the king himself to the banquet she prepared for us. And she has invited me to dine with her and the king again tomorrow!” 13 Then he added, “But this is all worth nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew just sitting there at the palace gate.”
14 So Haman’s wife, Zeresh, and all his friends suggested, “Set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet[q] tall, and in the morning ask the king to impale Mordecai on it. When this is done, you can go on your merry way to the banquet with the king.” This pleased Haman, and he ordered the pole set up.
The King Honors Mordecai
6 That night the king had trouble sleeping, so he ordered an attendant to bring the book of the history of his reign so it could be read to him. 2 In those records he discovered an account of how Mordecai had exposed the plot of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the eunuchs who guarded the door to the king’s private quarters. They had plotted to assassinate King Xerxes.
3 “What reward or recognition did we ever give Mordecai for this?” the king asked.
His attendants replied, “Nothing has been done for him.”
4 “Who is that in the outer court?” the king inquired. As it happened, Haman had just arrived in the outer court of the palace to ask the king to impale Mordecai on the pole he had prepared.
5 So the attendants replied to the king, “Haman is out in the court.”
“Bring him in,” the king ordered. 6 So Haman came in, and the king said, “What should I do to honor a man who truly pleases me?”
Haman thought to himself, “Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?” 7 So he replied, “If the king wishes to honor someone, 8 he should bring out one of the king’s own royal robes, as well as a horse that the king himself has ridden—one with a royal emblem on its head. 9 Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. And let him see that the man whom the king wishes to honor is dressed in the king’s robes and led through the city square on the king’s horse. Have the official shout as they go, ‘This is what the king does for someone he wishes to honor!’”
10 “Excellent!” the king said to Haman. “Quick! Take the robes and my horse, and do just as you have said for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the gate of the palace. Leave out nothing you have suggested!”
11 So Haman took the robes and put them on Mordecai, placed him on the king’s own horse, and led him through the city square, shouting, “This is what the king does for someone he wishes to honor!” 12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the palace gate, but Haman hurried home dejected and completely humiliated.
13 When Haman told his wife, Zeresh, and all his friends what had happened, his wise advisers and his wife said, “Since Mordecai—this man who has humiliated you—is of Jewish birth, you will never succeed in your plans against him. It will be fatal to continue opposing him.”
14 While they were still talking, the king’s eunuchs arrived and quickly took Haman to the banquet Esther had prepared.
The King Executes Haman
7 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet. 2 On this second occasion, while they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “Tell me what you want, Queen Esther. What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!”
3 Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request, I ask that my life and the lives of my people will be spared. 4 For my people and I have been sold to those who would kill, slaughter, and annihilate us. If we had merely been sold as slaves, I could remain quiet, for that would be too trivial a matter to warrant disturbing the king.”
5 “Who would do such a thing?” King Xerxes demanded. “Who would be so presumptuous as to touch you?”
6 Esther replied, “This wicked Haman is our adversary and our enemy.” Haman grew pale with fright before the king and queen. 7 Then the king jumped to his feet in a rage and went out into the palace garden.
Haman, however, stayed behind to plead for his life with Queen Esther, for he knew that the king intended to kill him. 8 In despair he fell on the couch where Queen Esther was reclining, just as the king was returning from the palace garden.
The king exclaimed, “Will he even assault the queen right here in the palace, before my very eyes?” And as soon as the king spoke, his attendants covered Haman’s face, signaling his doom.
9 Then Harbona, one of the king’s eunuchs, said, “Haman has set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet[r] tall in his own courtyard. He intended to use it to impale Mordecai, the man who saved the king from assassination.”
“Then impale Haman on it!” the king ordered. 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.
A Decree to Help the Jews
8 On that same day King Xerxes gave the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther. Then Mordecai was brought before the king, for Esther had told the king how they were related. 2 The king took off his signet ring—which he had taken back from Haman—and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed Mordecai to be in charge of Haman’s property.
3 Then Esther went again before the king, falling down at his feet and begging him with tears to stop the evil plot devised by Haman the Agagite against the Jews. 4 Again the king held out the gold scepter to Esther. So she rose and stood before him.
5 Esther said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor with him, and if he thinks it is right, and if I am pleasing to him, let there be a decree that reverses the orders of Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, who ordered that Jews throughout all the king’s provinces should be destroyed. 6 For how can I endure to see my people and my family slaughtered and destroyed?”
7 Then King Xerxes said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, “I have given Esther the property of Haman, and he has been impaled on a pole because he tried to destroy the Jews. 8 Now go ahead and send a message to the Jews in the king’s name, telling them whatever you want, and seal it with the king’s signet ring. But remember that whatever has already been written in the king’s name and sealed with his signet ring can never be revoked.”
9 So on June 25[s] the king’s secretaries were summoned, and a decree was written exactly as Mordecai dictated. It was sent to the Jews and to the highest officers, the governors, and the nobles of all the 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia.[t] The decree was written in the scripts and languages of all the peoples of the empire, including that of the Jews. 10 The decree was written in the name of King Xerxes and sealed with the king’s signet ring. Mordecai sent the dispatches by swift messengers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king’s service.
11 The king’s decree gave the Jews in every city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies. 12 The day chosen for this event throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes was March 7 of the next year.[u]
13 A copy of this decree was to be issued as law in every province and proclaimed to all peoples, so that the Jews would be ready to take revenge on their enemies on the appointed day. 14 So urged on by the king’s command, the messengers rode out swiftly on fast horses bred for the king’s service. The same decree was also proclaimed in the fortress of Susa.
15 Then Mordecai left the king’s presence, wearing the royal robe of blue and white, the great crown of gold, and an outer cloak of fine linen and purple. And the people of Susa celebrated the new decree. 16 The Jews were filled with joy and gladness and were honored everywhere. 17 In every province and city, wherever the king’s decree arrived, the Jews rejoiced and had a great celebration and declared a public festival and holiday. And many of the people of the land became Jews themselves, for they feared what the Jews might do to them.
The Victory of the Jews
9 So on March 7[v] the two decrees of the king were put into effect. On that day, the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but quite the opposite happened. It was the Jews who overpowered their enemies. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the king’s provinces to attack anyone who tried to harm them. But no one could make a stand against them, for everyone was afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the highest officers, the governors, and the royal officials helped the Jews for fear of Mordecai. 4 For Mordecai had been promoted in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces as he became more and more powerful.
5 So the Jews went ahead on the appointed day and struck down their enemies with the sword. They killed and annihilated their enemies and did as they pleased with those who hated them. 6 In the fortress of Susa itself, the Jews killed 500 men. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha— 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not take any plunder.
11 That very day, when the king was informed of the number of people killed in the fortress of Susa, 12 he called for Queen Esther. He said, “The Jews have killed 500 men in the fortress of Susa alone, as well as Haman’s ten sons. If they have done that here, what has happened in the rest of the provinces? But now, what more do you want? It will be granted to you; tell me and I will do it.”
13 Esther responded, “If it please the king, give the Jews in Susa permission to do again tomorrow as they have done today, and let the bodies of Haman’s ten sons be impaled on a pole.”
14 So the king agreed, and the decree was announced in Susa. And they impaled the bodies of Haman’s ten sons. 15 Then the Jews at Susa gathered together on March 8[w] and killed 300 more men, and again they took no plunder.
16 Meanwhile, the other Jews throughout the king’s provinces had gathered together to defend their lives. They gained relief from all their enemies, killing 75,000 of those who hated them. But they did not take any plunder. 17 This was done throughout the provinces on March 7, and on March 8 they rested,[x] celebrating their victory with a day of feasting and gladness. 18 (The Jews at Susa killed their enemies on March 7 and again on March 8, then rested on March 9,[y] making that their day of feasting and gladness.) 19 So to this day, rural Jews living in remote villages celebrate an annual festival and holiday on the appointed day in late winter,[z] when they rejoice and send gifts of food to each other.
The Festival of Purim
20 Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, 21 calling on them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days.[aa] 22 He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.
23 So the Jews accepted Mordecai’s proposal and adopted this annual custom. 24 Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews, had plotted to crush and destroy them on the date determined by casting lots (the lots were called purim). 25 But when Esther came before the king, he issued a decree causing Haman’s evil plot to backfire, and Haman and his sons were impaled on a sharpened pole. 26 That is why this celebration is called Purim, because it is the ancient word for casting lots.
So because of Mordecai’s letter and because of what they had experienced, 27 the Jews throughout the realm agreed to inaugurate this tradition and to pass it on to their descendants and to all who became Jews. They declared they would never fail to celebrate these two prescribed days at the appointed time each year. 28 These days would be remembered and kept from generation to generation and celebrated by every family throughout the provinces and cities of the empire. This Festival of Purim would never cease to be celebrated among the Jews, nor would the memory of what happened ever die out among their descendants.
29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote another letter putting the queen’s full authority behind Mordecai’s letter to establish the Festival of Purim. 30 Letters wishing peace and security were sent to the Jews throughout the 127 provinces of the empire of Xerxes. 31 These letters established the Festival of Purim—an annual celebration of these days at the appointed time, decreed by both Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther. (The people decided to observe this festival, just as they had decided for themselves and their descendants to establish the times of fasting and mourning.) 32 So the command of Esther confirmed the practices of Purim, and it was all written down in the records.
The Greatness of Xerxes and Mordecai
10 King Xerxes imposed a tribute throughout his empire, even to the distant coastlands. 2 His great achievements and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Media and Persia. 3 Mordecai the Jew became the prime minister, with authority next to that of King Xerxes himself. He was very great among the Jews, who held him in high esteem, because he continued to work for the good of his people and to speak up for the welfare of all their descendants.
Esther 1-10 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Vashti Angers the King
1 These events took place during the days of Ahasuerus, who ruled 127 provinces from India to Cush. 2 In those days King Ahasuerus reigned from his royal throne in the fortress at Susa. 3 He held a feast in the third year of his reign for all his officials and staff, the army of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the officials from the provinces. 4 He displayed the glorious wealth of his kingdom and the magnificent splendor of his greatness for a total of 180 days.
5 At the end of this time, the king held a week-long banquet in the garden courtyard of the royal palace for all the people, from the greatest to the least, who were present in the fortress of Susa. 6 White and violet linen hangings were fastened with fine white and purple linen cords to silver rods on marble[a] columns. Gold and silver couches were arranged on a mosaic pavement of red feldspar,[b] marble, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones.
7 Drinks were served in an array of gold goblets, each with a different design. Royal wine flowed freely, according to the king’s bounty. 8 The drinking was according to royal decree: “There are no restrictions.” The king had ordered every wine steward in his household to serve whatever each person wanted. 9 Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women of King Ahasuerus’s palace.
10 On the seventh day, when the king was feeling good from the wine, Ahasuerus commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas—the seven eunuchs who personally served him— 11 to bring Queen Vashti before him with her royal crown. He wanted to show off her beauty to the people and the officials, because she was very beautiful. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command that was delivered by his eunuchs. The king became furious and his anger burned within him.
The King’s Decree
13 The king consulted the wise men who understood the times,[c] for it was his normal procedure to confer with experts in law and justice. 14 The most trusted ones[d] were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan. They were the seven officials of Persia and Media who had personal access to the king and occupied the highest positions in the kingdom. 15 The king asked, “According to the law, what should be done with Queen Vashti, since she refused to obey King Ahasuerus’s command that was delivered by the eunuchs?”
16 Memucan said in the presence of the king and his officials, “Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king, but all the officials and the peoples who are in every one of King Ahasuerus’s provinces. 17 For the queen’s action will become public knowledge to all the women and cause them to despise their husbands and say, ‘King Ahasuerus ordered Queen Vashti brought before him, but she did not come.’ 18 Before this day is over, the noble women of Persia and Media who hear about the queen’s act will say the same thing to all the king’s officials, resulting in more contempt and fury.
19 “If it meets the king’s approval, he should personally issue a royal decree. Let it be recorded in the laws of Persia and Media, so that it cannot be revoked: Vashti is not to enter King Ahasuerus’s presence, and her royal position is to be given to another woman who is more worthy than she. 20 The decree the king issues will be heard throughout his vast kingdom, so all women will honor their husbands, from the greatest to the least.”
21 The king and his counselors approved the proposal, and he followed Memucan’s advice. 22 He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to each province in its own script and to each ethnic group in its own language, that every man should be master of his own house and speak in the language of his own people.
The Search for a New Queen
2 Some time later, when King Ahasuerus’s rage had cooled down, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what was decided against her. 2 The king’s personal attendants suggested, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint commissioners in each province of his kingdom, so that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem at the fortress of Susa. Put them under the supervision of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, keeper of the women, and give them the required beauty treatments. 4 Then the young woman who pleases the king will become queen instead of Vashti.” This suggestion pleased the king, and he did accordingly.
5 In the fortress of Susa, there was a Jewish man named Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite. 6 He had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the other captives when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jeconiah of Judah into exile. 7 Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin[e] Hadassah (that is, Esther), because she had no father or mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking. When her father and mother died, Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter.
8 When the king’s command and edict became public knowledge and when many young women were gathered at the fortress of Susa under Hegai’s supervision, Esther was taken to the palace, into the supervision of Hegai, keeper of the women. 9 The young woman pleased him and gained his favor so that he accelerated the process of the beauty treatments and the special diet that she received. He assigned seven hand-picked female servants to her from the palace and transferred her and her servants to the harem’s best quarters.
10 Esther did not reveal her ethnicity or her family background, because Mordecai had ordered her not to make them known. 11 Every day Mordecai took a walk in front of the harem’s courtyard to learn how Esther was doing and to see what was happening to her.
12 During the year before each young woman’s turn to go to King Ahasuerus, the harem regulation required her to receive beauty treatments with oil of myrrh for six months and then with perfumes and cosmetics for another six months. 13 When the young woman would go to the king, she was given whatever she requested to take with her from the harem to the palace. 14 She would go in the evening, and in the morning she would return to a second harem under the supervision of the king’s eunuch Shaashgaz, keeper of the concubines. She never went to the king again, unless he desired her and summoned her by name.
Esther Becomes Queen
15 Esther was the daughter of Abihail, the uncle of Mordecai who had adopted her as his own daughter. When her turn came to go to the king, she did not ask for anything except what Hegai, the king’s eunuch, keeper of the women, suggested. Esther gained favor in the eyes of everyone who saw her.
16 She was taken to King Ahasuerus in the palace in the tenth month, the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king loved Esther more than all the other women. She won more favor and approval from him than did any of the other virgins. He placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti. 18 The king held a great banquet for all his officials and staff. It was Esther’s banquet. He freed his provinces from tax payments and gave gifts worthy of the king’s bounty.
Mordecai Saves the King
19 When the virgins were gathered a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the King’s Gate. 20 (Esther had not revealed her family background or her ethnicity, as Mordecai had directed. She obeyed Mordecai’s orders, as she always had while he raised her.)
21 During those days while Mordecai was sitting at the King’s Gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the entrance, became infuriated and planned to assassinate[f] King Ahasuerus. 22 When Mordecai learned of the plot, he reported it to Queen Esther, and she told the king on Mordecai’s behalf. 23 When the report was investigated and verified, both men were hanged on the gallows. This event was recorded in the Historical Record in the king’s presence.
Haman’s Plan to Kill the Jews
3 After all this took place, King Ahasuerus honored Haman, son of Hammedatha the Agagite. He promoted him in rank and gave him a higher position than all the other officials. 2 The entire royal staff at the King’s Gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, because the king had commanded this to be done for him. But Mordecai would not bow down or pay homage. 3 The members of the royal staff at the King’s Gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you disobeying the king’s command?” 4 When they had warned him day after day and he still would not listen to them, they told Haman in order to see if Mordecai’s actions would be tolerated, since he had told them he was a Jew.
5 When Haman saw that Mordecai was not bowing down or paying him homage, he was filled with rage. 6 And when he learned of Mordecai’s ethnic identity, it seemed repugnant to Haman to do away with[g] Mordecai alone. He planned to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout Ahasuerus’s kingdom.
7 In the first month, the month of Nisan, in King Ahasuerus’s twelfth year, the Pur—that is, the lot—was cast before Haman for each day in each month, and it fell on the twelfth month, the month Adar. 8 Then Haman informed King Ahasuerus, “There is one ethnic group, scattered throughout the peoples in every province of your kingdom, keeping themselves separate. Their laws are different from everyone else’s and they do not obey the king’s laws. It is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If the king approves, let an order be drawn up authorizing their destruction, and I will pay 375 tons of silver to[h] the officials for deposit in the royal treasury.”
10 The king removed his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jewish people. 11 Then the king told Haman, “The money and people are given to you to do with as you see fit.”
12 The royal scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and the order was written exactly as Haman commanded. It was intended for the royal satraps, the governors of each of the provinces, and the officials of each ethnic group and written for each province in its own script and to each ethnic group in its own language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the royal signet ring. 13 Letters were sent by couriers to each of the royal provinces telling the officials to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jewish people—young and old, women and children—and plunder their possessions on a single day, the thirteenth day of Adar, the twelfth month.[i]
14 A copy of the text, issued as law throughout every province, was distributed to all the peoples so that they might get ready for that day. 15 The couriers left, spurred on by royal command, and the law was issued in the fortress of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, while the city of Susa was in confusion.
Mordecai Appeals to Esther
4 When Mordecai learned all that had occurred, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, went into the middle of the city, and cried loudly and bitterly. 2 He went only as far as the King’s Gate, since the law prohibited anyone wearing sackcloth from entering the King’s Gate. 3 There was great mourning among the Jewish people in every province where the king’s command and edict came. They fasted, wept, and lamented, and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
4 Esther’s female servants and her eunuchs came and reported the news to her, and the queen was overcome with fear. She sent clothes for Mordecai to wear so that he would take off his sackcloth, but he did not accept them. 5 Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs who attended her, and dispatched him to Mordecai to learn what he was doing and why.[j] 6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the city square in front of the King’s Gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened as well as the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay the royal treasury for the slaughter of the Jews.
8 Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa ordering their destruction, so that Hathach might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and command her to approach the king, implore his favor, and plead with him personally for her people. 9 Hathach came and repeated Mordecai’s response to Esther.
10 Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to tell Mordecai, 11 “All the royal officials and the people of the royal provinces know that one law applies to every man or woman who approaches the king in the inner courtyard and who has not been summoned—the death penalty— unless the king extends the gold scepter, allowing that person to live. I have not been summoned to appear before the king for the last[k] thirty days.” 12 Esther’s response was reported to Mordecai.
13 Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. 14 If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”
15 Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.” 17 So Mordecai went and did everything Esther had commanded him.
Esther Approaches the King
5 On the third day, Esther dressed in her royal clothing and stood in the inner courtyard of the palace facing it. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the royal courtroom,[l] facing its entrance. 2 As soon as the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, she gained favor in his eyes. The king extended the gold scepter in his hand toward Esther, and she approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
3 “What is it, Queen Esther?” the king asked her. “Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be given to you.”
4 “If it pleases the king,” Esther replied, “may the king and Haman come today to the banquet I have prepared for them.”
5 The king said, “Hurry, and get Haman so we can do as Esther has requested.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared.
6 While drinking the[m] wine, the king asked Esther, “Whatever you ask will be given to you. Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be done.”
7 Esther answered, “This is my petition and my request: 8 If I have found favor in the eyes of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and perform my request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet I will prepare for them. Tomorrow I will do what the king has asked.”
9 That day Haman left full of joy and in good spirits.[n] But when Haman saw Mordecai at the King’s Gate, and Mordecai didn’t rise or tremble in fear at his presence, Haman was filled with rage toward Mordecai. 10 Yet Haman controlled himself and went home. He sent for his friends and his wife Zeresh to join him. 11 Then Haman described for them his glorious wealth and his many sons. He told them all how the king had honored him and promoted him in rank over the other officials and the royal staff. 12 “What’s more,” Haman added, “Queen Esther invited no one but me to join the king at the banquet she had prepared. I am invited again tomorrow to join her with the king. 13 Still, none of this satisfies me since I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the King’s Gate all the time.”
14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends told him, “Have them build a gallows seventy-five feet[o] tall. Ask the king in the morning to hang Mordecai on it. Then go to the banquet with the king and enjoy yourself.” The advice pleased Haman, so he had the gallows constructed.
Mordecai Honored by the King
6 That night sleep escaped the king, so he ordered the book recording daily events to be brought and read to the king. 2 They found the written report of how Mordecai had informed on Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the entrance, when they planned to assassinate King Ahasuerus. 3 The king inquired, “What honor and special recognition have been given to Mordecai for this act?”
The king’s personal attendants replied, “Nothing has been done for him.”
4 The king asked, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman was just entering the outer court of the palace to ask the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows he had prepared for him.
5 The king’s attendants answered him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.”
“Have him enter,” the king ordered. 6 Haman entered, and the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king wants to honor?”
Haman thought to himself, “Who is it the king would want to honor more than me?” 7 Haman told the king, “For the man the king wants to honor: 8 Have them bring a royal garment that the king himself has worn and a horse the king himself has ridden, which has a royal crown on its head. 9 Put the garment and the horse under the charge of one of the king’s most noble officials. Have them clothe the man the king wants to honor, parade him on the horse through the city square, and proclaim before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king wants to honor.’”
10 The king told Haman, “Hurry, and do just as you proposed. Take a garment and a horse for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the King’s Gate. Do not leave out anything you have suggested.”
11 So Haman took the garment and the horse. He clothed Mordecai and paraded him through the city square, crying out before him, “This is what is done for the man the king wants to honor.”
12 Then Mordecai returned to the King’s Gate, but Haman hurried off for home, mournful and with his head covered. 13 Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai is Jewish, and you have begun to fall before him, you won’t overcome him, because your downfall is certain.” 14 While they were still speaking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and rushed Haman to the banquet Esther had prepared.
Haman Is Executed
7 The king and Haman came to feast[p] with Esther the queen. 2 Once again, on the second day while drinking wine, the king asked Esther, “Queen Esther, whatever you ask will be given to you. Whatever you seek, even to half the kingdom, will be done.”
3 Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your eyes, Your Majesty, and if the king is pleased, spare my life; this is my request. And spare my people; this is my desire. 4 For my people and I have been sold to destruction, death, and extermination. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept silent. Indeed, the trouble wouldn’t be worth burdening the king.”
5 King Ahasuerus spoke up and asked Queen Esther, “Who is this, and where is the one who would devise such a scheme?” [q]
6 Esther answered, “The adversary and enemy is this evil Haman.”
Haman stood terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king arose in anger and went from where they were drinking wine to the palace garden.[r] Haman remained to beg Queen Esther for his life because he realized the king was planning something terrible for him. 8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall,[s] Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, “Would he actually violate the queen while I am in the house?” As soon as the statement left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.
The king said, “Hang him on it.”
10 They hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s anger subsided.
Esther Intervenes for the Jews
8 That same day King Ahasuerus awarded Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Mordecai entered the king’s presence because Esther had revealed her relationship to Mordecai. 2 The king removed his signet ring he had recovered from Haman and gave it to Mordecai, and Esther put him in charge of Haman’s estate.
3 Then Esther addressed the king again. She fell at his feet, wept, and begged him to revoke the evil of Haman the Agagite and his plot he had devised against the Jews. 4 The king extended the gold scepter toward Esther, so she got up and stood before the king.
5 She said, “If it pleases the king and I have found favor before him, if the matter seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let a royal edict be written. Let it revoke the documents the scheming Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. 6 For how could I bear to see the disaster that would come on my people? How could I bear to see the destruction of my relatives?”
7 King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, “Look, I have given Haman’s estate to Esther, and he was hanged on the gallows because he attacked[v] the Jews. 8 Write in the king’s name whatever pleases you concerning the Jews, and seal it with the royal signet ring. A document written in the king’s name and sealed with the royal signet ring cannot be revoked.”
9 On the twenty-third day of the third month—that is, the month Sivan—the royal scribes were summoned. Everything was written exactly as Mordecai commanded for the Jews, to the satraps, the governors, and the officials of the 127 provinces from India to Cush. The edict was written for each province in its own script, for each ethnic group in its own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language.
10 Mordecai wrote in King Ahasuerus’s name and sealed the edicts with the royal signet ring. He sent the documents by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses bred in the royal stables.
11 The king’s edict gave the Jews in each and every city the right to assemble and defend themselves, to destroy, kill, and annihilate every ethnic and provincial army hostile to them, including women and children, and to take their possessions as spoils of war. 12 This would take place on a single day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month Adar.
13 A copy of the text, issued as law throughout every province, was distributed to all the peoples so the Jews could be ready to avenge themselves against their enemies on that day. 14 The couriers rode out in haste on their royal horses at the king’s urgent command. The law was also issued in the fortress of Susa.
15 Mordecai went from the king’s presence clothed in royal purple and white, with a great gold crown and a purple robe of fine linen. The city of Susa shouted and rejoiced, 16 and the Jews celebrated[w] with gladness, joy, and honor. 17 In every province and every city, wherever the king’s command and his law reached, joy and rejoicing took place among the Jews. There was a celebration and a holiday.[x] And many of the ethnic groups of the land professed themselves to be Jews because fear of the Jews had overcome them.
Victories of the Jews
9 The king’s command and law went into effect on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month Adar. On the day when the Jews’ enemies had hoped to overpower them, just the opposite happened. The Jews overpowered those who hated them. 2 In each of King Ahasuerus’s provinces the Jews assembled in their cities to attack those who intended to harm them.[y] Not a single person could withstand them; fear of them fell on every nationality.
3 All the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and the royal civil administrators[z] aided the Jews because they feared Mordecai. 4 For Mordecai exercised great power in the palace, and his fame spread throughout the provinces as he became more and more powerful.
5 The Jews put all their enemies to the sword, killing and destroying them. They did what they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In the fortress of Susa the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men, 7 including Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha. 10 They killed these ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. However, they did not seize[aa] any plunder.
11 On that day the number of people killed in the fortress of Susa was reported to the king. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “In the fortress of Susa the Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men, including Haman’s ten sons. What have they done in the rest of the royal provinces? Whatever you ask will be given to you. Whatever you seek will also be done.”
13 Esther answered, “If it pleases the king, may the Jews who are in Susa also have tomorrow to carry out today’s law, and may the bodies of Haman’s ten sons be hung on the gallows.” 14 The king gave the orders for this to be done, so a law was announced in Susa, and they hung the bodies of Haman’s ten sons. 15 The Jews in Susa assembled again on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and killed three hundred men in Susa, but they did not seize any plunder.
16 The rest of the Jews in the royal provinces assembled, defended themselves, and gained relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand[ab] of those who hated them, but they did not seize any plunder. 17 They fought on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar and rested on the fourteenth, and it became a day of feasting and rejoicing.
18 But the Jews in Susa had assembled on the thirteenth and the fourteenth days of the month. They rested on the fifteenth day of the month, and it became a day of feasting and rejoicing. 19 This explains why the rural Jews who live in villages observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a time of rejoicing and feasting. It is a holiday when they send gifts to one another.
20 Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to all the Jews in all of King Ahasuerus’s provinces, both near and far. 21 He ordered them to celebrate the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar every year 22 because during those days the Jews gained relief from their enemies. That was the month when their sorrow was turned into rejoicing and their mourning into a holiday. They were to be days of feasting, rejoicing, and of sending gifts to one another and to the poor.
23 So the Jews agreed to continue the practice they had begun, as Mordecai had written them to do. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them. He cast the Pur—that is, the lot—to crush and destroy them. 25 But when the matter was brought before the king, he commanded by letter that the evil plan Haman had devised against the Jews return on his own head and that he should be hanged with his sons on the gallows. 26 For this reason these days are called Purim, from the word Pur. Because of all the instructions in this letter as well as what they had witnessed and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews bound themselves, their descendants, and all who joined with them to a commitment that they would not fail to celebrate these two days each and every year according to the written instructions and according to the time appointed. 28 These days are remembered and celebrated by every generation, family, province, and city, so that these days of Purim will not lose their significance in Jewish life[ac] and their memory will not fade from their descendants.
29 Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote this second letter with full authority to confirm the letter about Purim. 30 He sent letters with assurances of peace and security[ad] to all the Jews who were in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, 31 in order to confirm these days of Purim at their proper time just as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had established them and just as they had committed themselves and their descendants to the practices of fasting and lamentation. 32 So Esther’s command confirmed these customs of Purim, which were then written into the record.
10 King Ahasuerus imposed a tax throughout the land even to the farthest shores.[ae] 2 All of his powerful and magnificent accomplishments and the detailed account of Mordecai’s great rank with which the king had honored him, have they not been written in the Book of the Historical Events of the Kings of Media and Persia? 3 Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus. He was famous among the Jews and highly esteemed by many of his relatives. He continued to pursue prosperity for his people and to speak for the well-being of all his descendants.